Who needs coal, or cars ... or jobs or clothes

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - News -

Hav­ing added a mil­lion or so Mid­dle Eastern refugees to her na­tion, Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel will now shut down all of Ger­many’s coal-fired power plants.

That’s quite a legacy. No coal power, no nu­clear power, and refugee-pop­u­lated no-go zones all over the place that even po­lice fear to en­ter.

But it’s all good, ac­cord­ing to awed Nine Me­dia Europe cor­re­spon­dent Nick Miller, who is par­tic­u­larly im­pressed by the loom­ing coal aban­don­ment.

“A lead­ing main­stream politi­cian in a ma­jor in­dus­trial na­tion this week said the coun­try will phase out coal power, com­pletely, in less than two decades’ time,” Miller wrote.

“Imag­ine the blow­back if an Aus­tralian politi­cian — La­bor or Lib­eral — tried that.”

Why stop there? Let’s also imag­ine Aus­tralia with­out $66 bil­lion in coal ex­ports, with­out thou­sands of jobs in the coal in­dus­try and with noth­ing to get us through win­ter be­sides the global warmth of Frau Merkel’s com­fort­ing, moth­erly smile.

Mere de­tails, ac­cord­ing to Miller: “Some mut­tered about higher en­ergy prices and en­ergy se­cu­rity con­cerns over Merkel’s 2038 coal phase-out de­ci­sion.

“But just as loud were com­plaints that it could all be done a decade faster if the gov­ern­ment re­ally put its mind to it.”

Ger­many pre­vi­ously em­barked on a decade-long large-scale cleansing pro­gram. That par­tic­u­lar ex­er­cise did not gen­er­ate in­ter­na­tional ap­proval and ended in 1945.

As Ox­ford Univer­sity aca­demic Matthias Dilling tells Miller, Ger­many is en­ter­ing a “post-ma­te­ri­al­ist” era. Once an econ­omy is wealthy and se­cure, it’s ap­par­ently time to “start em­brac­ing post-ma­te­rial needs such as en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tion”.

Which is fine un­less peo­ple want to keep buy­ing things or hav­ing jobs. Ma­te­rial needs are a con­stant. Post ma­te­ri­al­ism lasts right up un­til the time you need new clothes, new fur­ni­ture, new ap­pli­ances or a new car.

But there may be no cars in fu­ture mag­i­cal Ger­many, de­spite the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try’s gi­gan­tic con­tri­bu­tion to the Ger­man econ­omy.

“There’s BMW in Mu­nich, Audi in In­gol­stadt, Porsche and Mercedes Benz in Stuttgart,” Miller writes. “Greens hate them all. They dream of bi­cy­cle-cen­tred cities, of clean air.”

Well, at least Ger­many is aim­ing to wreck their own coun­try this time around in­stead of storm­ing into Poland and France. Good for them. Miller, how­ever, seems slightly dis­ap­pointed that Chan­cel­lor Merkel isn’t tak­ing the same bru­tal ac­tion against cars as she is against coal.

Ger­man jour­nal­ist Fried­bert Meurer ex­plains to Nine’s man why Merkel might be re­luc­tant to end the an­nual pro­duc­tion of six mil­lion ve­hi­cles and cast more than 850,000 work­ers into unem­ploy­ment: “It is too im­por­tant, too many jobs rely on it.”

Just to re­peat, Nine’s Eu­ro­pean cor­re­spon­dent needed some­one to tell him that. Thank God for lo­cal knowl­edge.

Still, Miller re­mains down­cast over the con­tin­ued ex­is­tence of places where peo­ple build things that other folk want to buy, and his mood im­proves only slightly when he looks to a fu­ture with­out any au­to­mo­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing.

“Per­haps it’s like the coal in­dus­try in the ‘90s, an in­dus­trial relic in de­cline,” Miller con­cludes. “But for now, ide­al­ism only goes so far and no fur­ther in Green Ger­many.”

That’s what passes for ide­al­ism in 2019, even in me­dia that imag­ines it­self to be main­stream.

By the way, Miller knows quite a bit about relics in de­cline. Be­fore the com­pany he works for was ab­sorbed by Nine, it used to be called Fair­fax.

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